What Is the Average Salary of an Aerospace Welder?

Research what it takes to become an aerospace welder. Learn about education and training requirements, average salary and typical job duties to find out if this career is for you. Schools offering Industrial Automation Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Aerospace Welder?

Aerospace welders put together aircraft, satellites, missiles and spacecraft for the aerospace industry. Referencing blueprints of aerospace vehicles, they first determine the dimensions of welds. Then they inspect materials to ensure they are ready to be welded. Using torches, they weld components together, making sure not overheat materials. There are numerous different welding processes these welders might use, depending on what materials they're joining together. The following chart gives you important information you need to know before entering this field.

Education Required Associate's degree or training through technical or vocational school
Certification Certification may be required, often through the American Welding Society
Key Responsibilities Operate equipment that fuses metals together, utilize wide variety of tools, both manual and semi-automatic, create parts for airplanes and space shuttles, and maintain upkeep of all equipment
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 4% (for all welders, cutters, solderers and brazers)
Median Salary (2015)* $38,150 (for all welders, cutters, solderers and brazers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Is Required?

The aerospace industry requires highly skilled welders to assemble aircrafts and aerospace machines. In order to prepare for a career in this field, you can attend a technical or community college, and obtain postsecondary training in welding or soldering. Relevant education and training may also be available through the U.S. military and private schools of welding.

An associate's degree welding program can encompass studies such as:

  • Welding industry fundamentals
  • Technical mathematics
  • Health and safety
  • Gas metal arc welding
  • Thermal cutting
  • Blueprint reading
  • Welding theory
  • Welding standards and codes.

Soldering programs at the associate's degree level will include classes such as electrical power distribution, electrical circuitry soldering technology, digital electronics, electrical safety, microprocessors and circuit analysis. Some military programs offer training in areas such as machine tool-cutting, and individuals learn about welding different metals such as cast iron, steel, copper alloys and cobalt base alloys.

What Can I Learn in an Aerospace Welding Apprentice Program?

Aerospace welding apprentice programs offer hands-on experience, and they can prepare you to become a certified aerospace welder. The programs combine academic coursework with on-the-job training. Training may last up to a year and will focus on areas such as welding procedures, hand welding, welding symbols, and proper aerospace hardware handling and cleaning techniques. Other areas of training may include radiographic testing and helium leak testing.

How Do I Become Certified?

Certification demonstrates your degree of knowledge and excellence in welding or soldering. As lead-free soldering techniques are becoming the norm, defense and aerospace employers are more often requiring expertise and certification in the field. The Institute of Printed Circuits (IPC) can provide you with both training and certification in areas such as lead-free soldering and safety standards.

In order to obtain such a certification, you must complete a soldering workmanship course on topics such as surface mount technology, and terminals and wires. Then you must successfully pass a certification examination. Welding certifications may be earned through the American Welding Society.

How Much Might I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), welders, cutters, brazers and solderers in general earned mean annual salaries of $40,970 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Those working for the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry earned an average of $45,980 in that same year, per the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Assemblers and fabricators use various tools to construct products. These products may include aircraft, toys, electronic devices, transportation equipment and more. Boilermakers specialize in the assembly and installation of vessels and containers that hold liquids and gases. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers create and sell jewelry, as well as repairing it, which may involve soldering. All of these professionals need a high-school diploma or an equivalent before starting a career, and on-the-job training is common.

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